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Posted By: Lynn Broom

From TB to Small Animal Vet

Having qualified as a vet 18 years ago I have seen and treated a significant variety of animals. These have ranged from the smallest including hamsters, budgies and geckos up to the largest including bulls and stallions.

Four years ago I traded in the comfort of a small animal clinic to work on farms almost exclusively TB testing cows which involves measuring skin, clipping hair and injecting tuberculin in to the neck of each and every cow on that farm. Working with farmers is great because they care for their animals but are practical and realistic. Farmers do not like TB testing, and most find it very stressful, but, on the whole, they accept that it needs doing and are helpful and considerate.

Cows are lovely animals and I’ve spent many a happy time scratching a friendly cows head in between testing her herd mates. Unfortunately a lot of cattle, particularly beef cattle, are not handled often, making TB testing very stressful for them and they can react unpredictably. Even with good handling facilities this makes them dangerous to handle and I have had several visits to A & E due to injuries sustained whilst testing.

Working on farms has kept me fit and I’ve enjoyed chatting with farmers whilst testing and doing the job as thoroughly and efficiently as possible to minimise the negative effect on the farms daily routine but I decided that, for me, the risk of further injury was too high and I decided to return to small animal practice.

The contrast is quite significant. A small animal clinic is warm and dry (I no longer look anxiously at the weather forecast wondering how many layers I need to put on that day !) and my patients generally arrive on an individual basis. There is a huge variety in species and I quickly have to think about the different causes of symptoms and their significance depending on the type of animal I am presented with.

For instance a snake may not eat for several weeks or months and be perfectly fine but a rabbit who hasn’t eaten for 24 hrs can be seriously ill. A chicken will hide her symptoms until she is too ill to do so whereas a dog will often display a change in behaviour as soon as he feels unwell. Medication in one species may be beneficial, yet to another it could be toxic.

Small animal work is, unfortunately, not all about cuddling puppies and hugging kittens. It can involve complicated illnesses, life saving surgery and difficult decisions all of which can be stressful but do add to the variety that each day brings. It is always a good feeling to see a patient get better and it is always hard to put a patient to sleep especially if you have built up a relationship with them and their owners.

I hope to bring my previous experience to my current role as a small animal vet and provide the best care that I can. In this job you never stop learning and seeing something new for the first time even after years of practice and that’s what makes this such an interesting and varied career.

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